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EDITORIAL: Want jobs? They’re available

It only takes a quick scan of classified advertisements and various online sites to get an idea of how many jobs are up for grabs across western rural and regional Victoria.

It also only takes a chat with business, industry or agency operators to discover many are struggling to find and secure people either willing or qualified to take on various roles.

Jobs ranging from accountants to mechanical-part interpreters, from shop-front assistants to specialist professionals, have been up for grabs.

Yet reports are, albeit anecdotally, that many organisations appear to be struggling to attract responses from appropriate and an appropriate number of applicants.

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The observation reflects a serious quandary and perplexing scenario for a region seemingly primed to experience development growth in the next decade.

In the Wimmera we appear caught in a paradox where we’re both big enough, yet not big enough to generate comfortable levels of self-perpetuating sustainability.

The struggle to fill job vacancies provides insight into a complex obstacle our municipal leaders consistently face in trying to develop as well as consolidate the fortunes, services, lifestyles and expectations of their respective communities.

The scenario has been with us for a while but efforts to help communities re-emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps galvanised a greater understanding of the dilemma.

Many agree that the ultimate answer lies in building a population base, but the tricky part of this is finding the best possible formula to attract new people or encourage people already in the regions to stay.

Getting that formula right, which is obviously incredibly hard, would ultimately represent the ‘goose that laid the golden egg’.

We’re hearing about a trending population shift into the regions, but it is obviously limited to within ‘earshot’ of Melbourne or to large provincial centres. 

The only obvious observable by-product that might be part of this in our part of the world is a rise in real-estate prices.

The truth is, when it comes to people exploring options for lifestyle change or a reason to stay, we might be on the other often forgotten side of the shopping list.

We’ve come to understand that a collective regional approach towards development is essential in getting promotional traction, but again, the answers remain elusive.

The revelation we’re seeing is that it is not just about jobs. 

It’s about services, housing, professional prospects, working conditions, equitable wages, educational and health opportunities, recreational opportunities and a social-
welfare system that not only supports society but also encourages job-seekers to be pro-active and adventurous.

And of course, state and federal governments must seriously acknowledge this as an issue, be smart enough and, importantly, willing to provide realistic development direction through targeted policy and process. 

The entire November 10, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!